Italy, the country of pasta and pizza…aaaah! C’mooon! We are in year 2019! Let’s expand our Italian horizon! Italian food is much more than this. Italy is actually a great country where to challenge your taste buds.
And Florence? Oh yes, Florence is the town of romance, the town of tagliatelle ai funghi, where truffle shaves rain day and night. Neeeeeh! Much more than this! A Florence street food tour can be much more exciting!
So, what about old style Florentine cuisine? How much do you know about Street food in Florence? How much do you really want to know? If you want my humble opinion, It wouldn’t make sense for an adventurous foodie to go to Florence and miss the five horror bites listed below.
So please, sit back, polish your canines and read.
WARNING! the following lines are not recommended to vegetarians, vegans and healthy food geeks. This article is for offal and meat eaters.
1. Crostino nero
Without any doubts in the top ten of my Italian foods, the crostino nero is a pure, intense, hormon shaking orgasm. I think the decrease of natality in Italy is due to this Florentine specialty, the crostino nero does supply making love. What is it? A slice of bread (no thicker than 1 cm thick!) topped with a grainy chicken liver patè. It sounds good and simple…uhmmm…former yes, latter no! The recipe is actually quite elaborate and involves a very attent treatment of other numerous ingredients. It all starts with a onion and butter sautè! The chicken liver is cooked in the frying pan, simmed with wine (red or white? There is a civil war in Tuscany coz of this. History will tell us) and blended with two inseparable friends, capers and anchovies. The sacrifice ends with a solemn holy touch, warm chicken broth. Where to find it? The crostino nero is available in all restaurants, best are at Trattorias.
Crostino nero means “black crusty bread” and it clearly refers to the dark brown color of the cream. “Nero” is also used to distinguish it from other traditional “crostini”, crostino con salsa verde, crostino ai funghi porcini. I tried a few…my favorite are probably made by madame Stefania in Sant’Ambrogio market, but I still have #foodporn dreams from the overloaded ones made at Trattoria da Tito.
2. Panino col Lampredotto
The lampredotto is constantly on the top of the Florence street food bucket ranking. It’s like the Juventus FC of Italian soccer league.
Made available by God in the streets of Florence, the panino al Lampredotto is a real gem for street foodies travelling to Tuscany. The smoke puffing off the food trucks is an authentic Mama’s call “E’ prontooooo!”. With the term “Lampredotto” Florentines refer to the curtain-shaped part of the veal stomach, mostly renowned in Italy as “centopelli”. Well, this delicious offal is cooked in a heaven-scented broth flavoured with a rich sautè of celery, onion and carrot. It’s served in a soft chubby bun painted inside with an addicting parsley sauce. The top part of the bun is soaked in broth before being sent to hungry foodies’ jaws! The taste is much more delicate than you expect. Florence street food is quite elegant and seductive indeed. Plus…it always gives you the feeling you wouldn’t survive longer without a glass of red wine. In fact, you won’t! Most popular is at Mercato San Lorenzo, which is very worth it but too busy. I personally love the one at Trippaio del Porcellino beside La Fontana del Porcellino. Your Florence street food tour must either start or end with it.
Well, in Tuscany they have a proper cult of tripe making. As I mentioned before, it is all connected to the wine needs of Tuscanians…this is why Tuscany is Tuscany, Tuscany is Tuscany. Have I written it twice? I probably need another glass of chianti. So…let’s get back to business. You are a meat and offal lover, you travel to Florence, you wanna make your own oh-my-god Florence foodie tour? then Tripe yourself! The sautè starts the miracle, black pepper and ground aged cheese ends it. Tripe, veal stomach, you again! The trippa alla fiorentina is cooked in a sautè of celery and onion, simmed with wine, embraced by tomato sauce and finally devoured with no mercy. Bread and wine, just like in a christian church, and the mess is served.
By the way, tripe can be cooked in so many different ways, the tomato one is probably the most common one but each Italian region has its own touch, sometimes dry sometimes as a brothy soup. Forms don’t make history of cuisine, taste does.
4. Panino con la Lingua
Florence street food, you unknown being! What else do you have to offer us? You know what? I’m not sure I’m gonna finish this article, my belly starts punching me. Can you hear it?….”go to San Lorenzo market!”, “no I can’t! I need to finish this blog post, I need to spread the word!”, “No You don’t, you need to eat…you need Panino con la Lingua!”.
Lingua means tongue yes! What animal, well…guess what? Veal! Go to San Lorenzo Mercato, first floor. A small smokey stall that sounds like a bunch of brasilians on a cuttlery percussion performance, this is your destination. Wear your dance shoes my dear foodie coz you are gonna have a “lento” with a soft rounded sandwich stuffed with chunks of veal tongue cooked in broth. Texture makes you wanna devour it with no mercy, the tickling spicy parsely sauce and the thick grain salt makes you wanna order more, but be patient…sip a glass of wine, look your sandwich in the eyes, and make love with it. We can call the Panino con lingua the cousin of Panino al Lampredotto. In fact, they look like each other but they taste very different. Welcome to the family!
The term soprassata might mislead your hunger. The term soppressa means “pressed”. In Calabria region the soppressata is a spicy aged pork salami…too hot not to give up! The soppressa in Veneto regione is a fresher and fatter pork salami. In all cases, wine must be around you when getting close to this stuff.
Wait a second…let me have one more sip…ok, cool!
So, what is the soprassata in Tuscany? It’s a cold cut made of the so-called “parti povere“ (tr. Poor parts) of pork: ears, tongue, gristles, tail and more “horror parts”. This inviting mix of fat nature is boiled, cooled down, savoured with spices, pressed and air-dried. Once again, anytime you expect foods taste horrible they taste amazingly good instead! This is the case of the soprassata. Tuscany is the motherland of cold cuts, and we all wanna be citizens of it. A visit to a cold cut shop (Salumeria) is a must in a Florence food and local market tour. I mean…it’s a must in your life, so…before it’s too late!
Do not feel guilty for devouring all of these guts and meats…somebody has to do it, right? Afterall, being somebody is not that bad 🙂
And if you ever feel guilty, have a wine shot, light up a Toscano cigar and let Fidel Castro’s words resound in your mind “La Historia me absolverà!“. (Tr. history will absolve me).